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Study Skills

Good academic practice and avoiding plagiarism

An online tutorial on good academic practice & avoiding plagiarism

Paraphrasing

To write academic work successfully you need to read round the subject and organise your ideas into a coherent argument. It is very important to reference your sources each time you include an idea or an argument from your reading, whether you have summarised the information, quoted it directly or paraphrased it. Effective quotation and use of source materials can show credibility and authority in writing you produce, as well as providing opposing views against which you can comment. Anything you cite should clearly support your conclusions. A paraphrase should be a restatement of the meaning of the original text in your own words and not simply changing some words or sentences around. Expressing ideas in your own words will strongly support your argument and show your tutor how well you understand the original material.

Examples

Below is an excerpt from a book with two examples of paraphrasing, one good and one bad. Look at both examples and choose which is the good example and your reasons why.

Example - Original text

Butler, J. (2004) Undoing gender. Abington: Routledge.

“If a decade or two ago, gender discrimination applied tacitly to women,, that no longer serves as the exclusive framework for understanding its contemporary usage. Discrimination against women continues - especially poor women and women of colour, if we consider the differential levels of poverty not only in the United States, but globally - so this dimension of gender discrimination remains crucial to acknowledge. But gender now also means gender identity, a particularly salient issue in the politics and theory of transgenderism and transsexuality." (Butler, 2004 p.28)

Example 1

Until ten or twenty years ago, the term "gender discrimation" was generally understood to mean discrimation against women, which remains to this day an important aspect of gender discrimination and therefore still topical. However, since the early nineties the definition of "gender" has changed to now also encompass gender identity, which plays a major part in the politics and theory of transgenderism and transsexuality." (Butler, 2004 p.28)

 

 

This is a poor example of paraphrasing

This example takes most of the points of the original paragraph and repeats them almost verbatim, occasionally changing a word or two or the sentence structure.The paraphrase remains too close to the original text with no clear indication that the writer has fully understood the various points made by the author. Also - importantly- this example doesn't cite the original author, so the writer of the paraphrase seems to be taking ownership of the author's ideas and arguments

 

Example 2

Butler (2004) recognises that discrimiation against women remains rife worldwide and therefore current. Significantly, however, she moves on to argue that the term "gender" itself has stretched since the early nineties when it narrowly described discrimination against women, to also encompass gender identity, and that consequently this shift in understanding ahs major implications in the fields of transgenderism and transsexuality."  (Butler, 2004 p.28).

 

 

This is a good example of paraphrasing

This example incorporates the various ideas and central argument from the original paragraph, to open up the discussion towards the topic of gender discrimination in the more recent fields of transgenderism and transsexuality. The in-text citation credits the author of the original ideas, which helps avoid the risk of plagiarism.

 

Below is an excerpt from a book with two examples of paraphrasing, one good and one bad. Look at both examples and decide which which is the good example and your reasons why. Click the button to reveal the answer.

Example - Original text

Varian, H. (2014) Intermediate Microeconomics: a modern approach. 9th ed. Norton.

“Another kind of tax or subsidy that the government might use is a lump-sum tax or subsidy. In the case of a tax, this means that the government takes away some fixed amount of money, regardless of the individual’s behavior. Thus a lump-sum tax means that the budget line of a consumer will shift inward because his money income has been reduced. Similarly, a lump-sum subsidy means that the budget line will shift outward. Quality taxes and value taxes tilt the budget line one way or the other depending on which good is being taxed, but a lump-sum tax shifts the budget line inward.” (Varian, 2014 p.28)

Example 1

A lump-sum tax is a kind of tax or subsidy the government might use. A tax means the government takes away a fixed amount of money regardless of an individual’s behaviour. A lump-sum tax will reduce a consumer’s income and his budget line will shift inward. A lump-sum subsidy will mean that the budget line will shift outward. Quality taxes and value taxes may tilt the budget line one way or the other depending upon the good being taxed. (Varian, 2014 p.28)

 

 

This is a poor example of paraphrasing

This example takes the original paragraph, uses all the same words in mostly the same order but has cut out parts of some sentences. There are slight changes in the use of full-stops. It does not demonstrate that the writer has understood the argument. It only shows an ability to copy and paste.

 

Example 2

Varian (2014) explains that when the government takes away some of an individual’s income as a lump-sum tax it will reduce their income. Therefore they will spend less of their available budget. However, a lump-sum subsidy, or government allowance, will increase the income of an individual and they will have more budget available to spend. Whereas quality or value taxes may affect the individual’s available budget depending upon the goods being taxed (p.28).

 

 

This is a good example of paraphrasing

The writer has captured the ideas of the original work, without copying what is said. The writer has re-orderd the ideas so that they can move on to talk about taxes and subsidies in more detail.

 

Below is an excerpt from a book with two examples of paraphrasing, one good and one bad. Look at both examples and choose which is the good example and your reasons why. Click the button to reveal the answer.

Example - Original text

Simons, M. (1999) Model Aircraft Aerodynamics. 4th ed. Special Interest Model Books.

“All aerodynamic theory depends on the laws of motion. These, originally worked out by Isaac Newton, remain entirely valid in engineering providing the matters under discussion are confined to velocities substantially less than the speed of light, and to objects and fluids of ordinary sizes and densities. Quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity, although fundamentally preferable to the Newtonian law in advanced physics and astronomy, are not necessary for the understanding of model aircraft aerodynamics.” (Simons, 1999 p. 1).

Example 1

Aerodynamic theory depends on the laws of motion originally worked out by Isaac Newton. These remain entirely valid in engineering providing the matters under discussion are confined to velocities under the speed of light, and to objects and fluids of ordinary sizes and densities. Quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity are not necessary for the understanding of model aircraft aerodynamics (Simons, 1999 p. 1)

 

 

This is a poor example of paraphrasing

This example takes the original paragraph, uses all the same words in mostly the same order but has cut out parts of some sentences. There are slight changes in the use of full-stops. It does not demonstrate that the writer has understood the argument. It only shows an ability to copy and paste.

 

Example 2

When considering the amount of physics that it is needed in order to understand model aircraft aerodynamics Simons (1999) clearly steers away from Quantum Mechanics and the theory of relativity as being unnecessary. The laws of motion devised by Isaac Newton are wholly relevant however, when working on aircraft typical in size and density and flying well below the speed of light (p. 1)

 

 

This is a good example of paraphrasing

The writer has captured the ideas of the original work, without copying what is said. The writer has re-orderd the ideas so that they can move on to talk about Newton's laws of motion in more detail.

 

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